An honest travel guide about Pulau Weh

Danu's dream became true - we made it to Kilometer 0! 

Pulau Weh is a small island located at the north-western tip of the Indonesian archipelago. A lot of Indonesians have given me confused looks when I spoke about Weh island as they usually refer to it as Sabang, named after its main city. Pulau Weh is famous for its stunning underwater world and relaxed island life. It is part of Aceh province, where the Sharia law is implemented. However, once you reach the island, it feels like you are a long way from the strict Islamic traditions and regulations.

I have heard many great things about Pulau Weh and had it on my bucket list for many years. However, if I am honest, I was a bit disappointed by this part of our road trip around Sumatra. I’ll explain more about my reasons throughout this blog.

Things to do

Snorkeling and diving

Pulau Weh has many dive centers and snorkeling spots. One of the many snorkeling areas is around Pulau Rubia, which is located just a few hundred meters off Iboih beach. You can either take a short boat ride to the island and snorkel close to the beach or you can charter a boat to take you around Pulau Rubia and visit different snorkeling spots.

When you arrive at Iboih beach, everything is well organized. There are many places renting snorkeling gear and selling different trips. There is an official pricelist which everyone seems to follow, so there is no need to ask around or bargain.

View of Rubia Island from Iboih Beach

We opted for a 3-hour snorkeling trip to 4 different locations and paid 500.000Rp. for the boat and an additional 80.0000Rp. to rent two sets of gear. It’s a steep price but I have heard so many awesome things about the snorkeling on Pulau Weh so I thought we might as well make the most of our time here and see different places.

I hate to say it, but I have to admit that both of us returned disappointed from this trip. Spots one and two were very close to each other and looked alike. There were some colourful schools of fish and a few starfish, but all corals were dead and had yet to recover after from the devastating tsunami which hit the region in 2004. The third spot was beautiful. It had many large table corals, several lobsters and it was my first time spotting a black and blue striped Crown of Thorn starfish. But, his spot was on the beach back on the main island, just north of Yulia’s Bungalow and could have just been accessed from there. The fourth spot would have been just off the beach of Pulau Rubia. However, when we saw it, we asked the boatman to bring us back to the car instead. The small beach was full of people, and I am not exaggerating when I say that the snorkeling spot was covered with orange life vests. It was a small roped in area crowded with hundreds of people. So to sum it up. the only great snorkeling spot we went to could as well have been accessed without chartering a boat.

To be fair, it was Christmas day, and a lot of people were enjoying their holidays on Pulau Weh. It is most likely a much more relaxed place to visit during other months of the year. I am also not sure if our boatman really brought us to the best locations or if my expectations were simply too high. I have been snorkeling at some other amazing locations around Indonesia, such as Lombok and Flores, and to me those spots were a lot more impressive. However, I can’t say anything about the diving on Pulau Weh. Maybe that’s the only way to see and explore the much-talked about underwater world of this island.

Kilometer Nol Monument

This place is the reason why many Indonesian visit Pulau Weh. It makes it the dream destination for members of the bike and car touring community as it’s the westernmost part of Indonesia. It was also Danu’s dream to drive our car Black Pearl to this spot. After 14 days on the road, covering over 2.500km we made it - we reached Kilometer 0!

Before getting to the monument, you are encouraged to park your car and walk through a road filled with souvenir stands. However, if you want to take a picture with your car or bike in front of the monument just pay the parking fee and ask them nicely if you can drive over there.

The monument itself was under construction when we got there, and a lot of people were lining up to take a picture with the Kilometer 0 sign in the background. It’s one of those “must-have” picture for many people. To me, this place seemed very overrated, but then I realized that it’s not really about what the place looks like, but about what it means to people. It’s the feeling of achievement and pride when you reach this spot, after struggles and adventures crossing Indonesia for possibly thousands of kilometers.  

A little fun fact at the end – you can also get an official certificate to proof your achievement of reaching Kilometer 0. Just ask one of the sellers or security guards. Of course, we also had to get one to display in our Black Pearl.  

Explore the island

It’s a lot of fun to drive or ride around Pulau Weh. The roads are in great condition and there is little traffic. You can easily circle around the island in just one day. There are lots of beautiful viewpoints to stop at, a waterfall to hike to, an old Japanese bunker to visit, and of course lots of beaches to explore. My favourite part was the west coast, passing by Cot Siribe Viewpoint. If you need to stock up on supplies head to Sabang. They have a market where you can find fresh veggies, fruits, and seafood.

Cot Siribe Viewpoint

Places to stay

We were expecting to find a lot of beautiful beaches where we could set up camp on Pulau Weh. However, the reality was very different. We actually did not camp at all during our time on the island. We tried to find a spot for two days but had to give up. It seemed like all beaches were either filled with Warungs, had no access at all, or were blocked off as the land around it had already been sold.

Possible camping spots 

We met a group of people sleeping in their campervans in the parking lot at Iboih Beach and the parking lot at White Sand Beach. We also heard that it’s possible to camp at Lake Aneuklaot which is close to Sabang.

To be honest, being on a beautiful island I did neither want to camp in a parking lot nor at a lake. I wanted to stay on the beach. I am not sure if my expectations were once again too high or if we somehow missed possible other camping spots. I would love to hear from you in the comments if you know some other spots to set up camp on Pulau Weh.

Instead of camping, we decided to stay at these two hotels on the beach.

Beu Ceubeh Cottage

They have simple huts with balconies overlooking a small and quiet bay. I enjoyed spending time on their wooden decks down by the beach. It’s the perfect spot to enjoy the amazing sunset and to do some stargazing with a glass of wine at night-time. It’s also possible to have dinner and breakfast at their restaurant.

Sunset from their wooden deck

The owners of Beu Ceubeh Cottage are very friendly and share our love for road trips and campervans. They told us about their plans to build a camp side on their land, so it might be possible to set up camp there sometime in the near future.

 Pulau Weh Paradise

Staying at Pulau Weh Paradise was one of our honeymoon treats for ourselves. They have beautiful modern cottages right on a private sandy beach. The cottages all have large window fronts with comfy couches behind them, overlooking the ocean. They also have private balconies with the mandatory hammock. Their restaurant offers a large selection of delicious dishes and is a great spot to enjoy a Bintang while watching the sky change colours during sunset. There is also a snorkeling spot near the beach but unfortunately, they do not rent gear so we were not able to check it out. This place is a great option if you feel like relaxing on a quiet and beautiful beach for a few days.

How to get there

Pulau Weh does not have an airport so the only way to reach the island is by boat. Several ferries connect Banda Aceh to Pulau Weh. In Banda Aceh, they leave at Pelabuhan (port) Ulee Lheue and they arrive in Pulau Weh at Pelabuhan Balohan. Speed ferries take around 45 minutes for the crossing while car ferries take around 2 hours. We used the car ferry and paid 300.000Rp. for two people and the car.


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  1. Nice! We are there now so I recognise it all 🌴😎


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